Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ancient Britain: Knowlton Rings SW of Stonehenge are Astronomy as the Stars of Taurus at the Vernal Equinox Point ca. 3000 BC including at Least One of the Hyades and showing also Stars of the Neighboring Pleiades

The Knowlton Rings are barrows viz. tumuli located in East Dorset, England, United Kingdom, southwest of Stonehenge at a location which would correspond astronomically to the stars of Taurus, given our previous postings, and thus it is not surprising that the Knowlton Rings in fact mark the Vernal Equinox ca. 3000 B.C. via the stars of Taurus and at least one of the Hyades. For orientation, the stars of the Pleiades are also marked to the northeast.

Google Earth is of little use here, but we found an image online by Steve Burrow of Bournemouth which shows a full archaeological survey map of the Knowlton Rings. Since that image is copyrighted, we redrew the entire map to a larger size (it may not be exactly to scale as a result) and added our astronomical explanations.

Two images were required to be able to show the full correspondence of the barrows and tumuli on Earth with the stars in the heavens.

The Pleiades are so clear as be without any possible astronomical dispute. Indeed, even the famed seven-star symbol of the Pleiades is apparently used. However, the Pleiades do not represent this megalithic site, but have only been added here for completion of the location by the ancients.

Knowlton itself is defined by the stars of Taurus near Aldebaran and the Hyades. In Taurus, stars important to marking the Vernal Equinox point on the ecliptic are given priority so that the major star Aldebaran is only marked to the right of the larger rings without any greater significance, as it is not on the ecliptic. The same holds true for the Hyades. However, numerous stars can be identified with little difficulty, as shown in the following images.

Image 1 of 2 of the Decipherment of the Knowlton Rings



 Image 2 of 2 of the Decipherment of the Knowlton Rings


Obviously, the interpretation of one megalithic site alone does not prove the hypothesis that ancient barrows and tumuli, viz. tumps, marked stars in the sky as part of archaic astronomical practice and also as hermetic land survey -- as above, so below -- but when one can start to incorporate several megalithic sites, as we have done in past postings, into a cohesive interlocked system, then the likelihood that the hypothesis is correct has been magnified algebraically.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Stonehenge and Stars of Cetus: If Tumps, Tumuli and Barrows in Ancient Britain Represented Sky Objects in the Hermetic Tradition, the Tumuli below Stonehenge are the Stars of Cetus

Stonehenge and Stars of Cetus: If Tumps, Tumuli and Barrows in Ancient Britain Represented Sky Objects in the Hermetic Tradition, the Tumuli below Stonehenge are the Stars of Cetus

Take a look at Google Earth and the tumps (also called tumuli viz. barrows) that surround Stonehenge.

The bottom half of the image below shows tumuli to the South of Stonehenge that can be viewed at Google Earth.


A clipped Google Earth map of the area below Stonehenge is reproduced at the bottom of the image above. Compare that map with the star image directly above it by Robert Mura, CC-BY-SA 3.0, from Software Perseus, via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cet.png.
 
Compare now the following star map which has the same relative size as the star map above, and that is why we use it, but is here imposed upon it, showing names of stars and the modern view of Cetus. We see that the ancients used many of the same stars, but at that time had a different resulting conception of what Cetus represented.


The image directly above from http://www.sternfreunde-muenster.de/sternbild.php?stbld=walfisch is copyrighted at the website of Sternfreunde Münster, Verein für Astronomie, which has a terrific astronomy website at http://www.sternfreunde-muenster.de. We post it here as fair use. Do not be put off by the fact that it is in German language, as astronomy is by and large international in scope, so that the images of constellations can be understood by anyone, as above.

In any case, as previously stated, if the tumps, tumuli and barrows of Ancient Britain marked stars in the heavens, as we argue they did (see megaliths.net), then these tumuli clearly mark the stars of Cetus and I have added red lines to show the stars corresponding to the appropriate tumuli.

There is a line of tumuli below these and those are also stars of Cetus and further down the line stars of Eridanus and Fornax, as identified on our main decipherment image some postings previous to this one. There are several obvious "lines" of stars extending down from Cetus and Eridanus but we superimposed images of the stars from Starry Night Pro on variously sized maps of Google Earth and they showed that the line we identify is the line intended by the ancients.


Stonehenge and Stars of the Pleiades: If Tumps, Tumuli and Barrows in Ancient Britain Represented Sky Objects in the Hermetic Tradition, the Tumuli to the Left of Stonehenge are the Pleiades


Take a look at Google Earth and the barrows (also called tumuli viz. tumps, i.e. "earth mounds") that surround Stonehenge.

The image below shows tumuli to the left of Stonehenge that can be viewed at Google Earth, as these tumps are found just above and to the right of the roundabout (intersection) on the road to Winterbourne Stoke.


A clipped Google Earth map of the area around Stonehenge is reproduced at the top of the image above. Compare that map with the star image directly below it based on Starry Night Pro (http://astronomy.starrynight.com/) star positions, and compare both maps with the bottom photo found at Vladislav Yastrebov of the Pleiades and nearby stars at http://yastrebov.fr/photo_astro.html (c) Vladislav Yastrebov (posted here as "fair use").

If the tumps, tumuli and barrows of Ancient Britain marked stars in the heavens, as we argue they did (see megaliths.net), then these tumuli clearly mark the Pleiades.

But that is not all, as the other groups of tumuli directly surrounding Stonehenge then represent, as they must, the stars of Aries and the stars of Cetus, i.e. nearby stars to the Pleiades, as we show in the following postings.


Ancient Britain and the Earthworks of Stonehenge Decipherment: Image Map of Results (12 Color Resolution)

Repeat of the previous posting but showing a lowest resolution map of only 12 colors, which may have some advantages....

This posting shows the overview map of materials explained in greater detail in subsequent postings, showing that the barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps (in America, "mounds") that are nearest to Stonehenge served as astronomical markers, principally marking stars in a system of astronomical measure and attendant land survey that extended far beyond Stonehenge.

See also megaliths.net.

The system of barrows seems to have its origin at least as far back as 3000 B.C.  According to our analysis, the long barrow at Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads marks the crossing point of the ecliptic, ecliptic meridian and celestial meridian at the point of the Vernal Equinox ca. 3117 B.C. That conclusion supports e.g. Professor Julian Thomas of Manchester who assigns an ancient date beyond 3000 B.C. to some of these earthworks.

OVERVIEW MAP of Stonehenge and the Nearest Earthworks
lowest resolution image (only 12 colors) as a .png file
you may have to scroll the image



This posting is now followed by an analysis of the various groups of barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps, in subsequent postings.
__________

Of interest in this matter
in terms of formal archaeological examination
of the Winterbourne Stoke Barrows
is the English Heritage report
by S. Newsome, M. Bowden, A. Komar, and S. Bax
in Report Number 107 of the year 2010 titled
Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape Project: Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads, Report Number: 107/2010, Series: Research Department Reports
Pages: 56, English Heritage.

See http://research.english-heritage.org.uk/report/?14949


Ancient Britain and the Earthworks of Stonehenge Decipherment: Image Map of Results (16 Color Resolution)

Repeat of the previous posting but showing a lower resolution map of only 16 colors, which has some advantages....

This posting shows the overview map of materials explained in greater detail in subsequent postings, showing that the barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps (in America, "mounds") that are nearest to Stonehenge served as astronomical markers, principally marking stars in a system of astronomical measure and attendant land survey that extended far beyond Stonehenge.

See also megaliths.net.

The system of barrows seems to have its origin at least as far back as 3000 B.C.  According to our analysis, the long barrow at Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads marks the crossing point of the ecliptic, ecliptic meridian and celestial meridian at the point of the Vernal Equinox ca. 3117 B.C. That conclusion supports e.g. Professor Julian Thomas of Manchester who assigns an ancient date beyond 3000 B.C. to some of these earthworks.

OVERVIEW MAP of Stonehenge and the Nearest Earthworks
lower resolution image (only 16 colors) as a .png file
you may have to scroll the image


One lower resolution posting of only 12 colors follows, followed by analysis of the various groups of barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps, in subsequent postings.
__________

Of interest in this matter
in terms of formal archaeological examination
of the Winterbourne Stoke Barrows
is the English Heritage report
by S. Newsome, M. Bowden, A. Komar, and S. Bax
in Report Number 107 of the year 2010 titled
Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape Project: Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads, Report Number: 107/2010, Series: Research Department Reports
Pages: 56, English Heritage.

See http://research.english-heritage.org.uk/report/?14949


Old Europe and the Stonehenge Earthworks Decipherment: Image Map of Results (High Resolution)

Old Europe at its finest ....

This posting shows the overview map of materials explained in greater detail in subsequent postings, showing that the barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps (in America, "mounds") that are nearest to Stonehenge served as astronomical markers, principally marking stars in a system of astronomical measure and attendant land survey that extended far beyond Stonehenge.

See also megaliths.net.

The system of barrows seems to have its origin at least as far back as 3000 B.C.  According to our analysis, the long barrow at Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads marks the crossing point of the ecliptic, ecliptic meridian and celestial meridian at the point of the Vernal Equinox ca. 3117 B.C. That conclusion supports e.g. Professor Julian Thomas of Manchester who assigns an ancient date beyond 3000 B.C. to some of these earthworks.

OVERVIEW MAP of Stonehenge and the Nearest Earthworks
highest resolution image as a .png file
you may have to scroll the image

Stonehenge Earthworks Deciphered High Resolution Image
Stonehenge Earthworks Deciphered (high resolution image)
Two lower resolution postings follow, and those are followed by analysis of the various groups of barrows, viz. tumuli or tumps, in subsequent postings.
__________

Of interest in this matter
in terms of formal archaeological examination
of the Winterbourne Stoke Barrows
is the English Heritage report
by S. Newsome, M. Bowden, A. Komar, and S. Bax
in Report Number 107 of the year 2010 titled
Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape Project: Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads, Report Number: 107/2010, Series: Research Department Reports
Pages: 56, English Heritage.

See http://research.english-heritage.org.uk/report/?14949


European Cultural Heritage and Stonehenge Earthworks Deciphered: Google Earth View Allows Astronomical Interpretation: The Introduction

This series of postings presents our alleged (and surely imperfect)
pioneer astronomical decipherment of the ancient man-made earthworks nearest to Stonehenge. Our main tools are Google Earth and Starry Night Pro, so that our reasoning can easily be followed by professional and layman alike.

In Britain, earthworks are called barrows, tumuli, tumps, dykes, cursus etc., while in America comparable earthworks are generally referred to as mounds.

Have we identified everything correctly at Stonehenge and environs?

That would be unlikely, after thousands of years, but we think we have made progress over previous research and analysis. We hope that others will be able to build on our results. As a matter of fact, we have had no one to check our work up to now, so that inspection can start now. Have fun.

We suggest that the ancient earthworks nearest to Stonehenge are "hermetic" marks of "archaic" astronomy. See megaliths.net for the principles involved and also our recent posting about the monuments of Kilmartin.

We have identified specific groups of tumuli near Stonehenge as marking stars of inter alia Perseus, the Pleiades, and Cetus. We think these are so clear as to be without serious doubt to anyone who follows up the analysis. Identifying e.g. the stars of Aries, on the other hand, is a judgment call.

Our interpretation of the complete astronomy will surely need much further work, especially in terms of the actual chronology and more complex matters of precession, the position of the ecliptic and celestial and ecliptic meridians. 

Stonehenge is apparently located on the ecliptic in this system, but it could only have marked the Vernal Equinox ca. one full Sothic-like cycle (ca. 1460 years) AFTER it was actually last constructed, as we know the structure today, so this location can only be found in an era prior to the earthwork system.

Hence, the current location of Stonehenge can only be as a direct successor to previous (we assume wooden) structures erected for the Winter Solstice, ca. 7500 B.C. by our reckoning, a Winter Solstice point which was located where Stonehenge today stands in an era that marked the end of the last ice age.

In fact, those are the oldest astronomical remnants at Stonehenge, post holes dating to ca. 10000 years before the present, as written at megalithia.com (© Richard M 1992-2008):
"The people of the Mesolithic period who erected the pine posts near Stonehenge are unlikely to have known of the grand vision which was to come. Nevertheless, they erected three huge pine posts in the great pine forest that covered the site at the time. The 1960's car park is built over these - the large round discs you can see in the car park are the modern markers for these 10,000 year old holes..."
This "archaic" astronomy was surely a product of mankind's attempt to discern the natural laws of the Sky above and the Earth below on which men and women found themselves in the ancient era. They were not unlike us in looking to explain their world.

Take a look at The Life of the Law and the posting

and consider the following quotation
that we found in a book
we recently downloaded
to our Android smartphone via Google Play,
as modernity meets antiquity:

That downloaded book is by Harold Bayley, Archaic England: An Essay in Deciphering Prehistory from Megalithic Monuments, Earthworks, Customs, Coins, Place-Names, and Faerie Superstitions, Chapman & Hall Ltd., London, 800 pp., published 1919.


Bayley quotes A. Hadrian Allcroft on earthworks as follows:
"Of all the many thousands of earthworks of various kinds to be found in England, those about which anything is known are very few, those of which there remains nothing more to be known scarcely exist.

Each individual example is in itself a new problem in history, chronology, ethnology, and anthropology; within every one lie the hidden possibilities of a revolution in knowledge.

We are proud of a history of nearly twenty centuries: we have the materials for a history which goes back beyond that time to centuries as yet undated.

The testimony of records carries the tale back to a certain point: beyond that point is only the testimony of archaeology, and of all the manifold branches of archaeology none is so practicable, so promising, yet so little explored, as that which is concerned with earthworks.

Within them lie hidden all the secrets of time before history begins, and by their means only can that history be put into writing: they are the back numbers of the island's story, as yet unread, much less indexed.
"
- A. Hadrian Allcroft [Earthwork of England: Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman and mediæval, Macmillan Co., Ltd., London, 1908, p. 20].
The next 3 postings will each present one large image of the concluding results of our Stonehenge earthworks research and analysis, each in a different resolution in order to accommodate the differing monitors and PC technologies that the user may have at her or his disposal.

First, we show the image in high resolution as a large .png file. 237 KB. That may present a download problem for some.

Second, we show the image in only 16 colors as a .png file. 98 KB.

Third, we show the image in only 12 colors as a .png file. 80 KB.

The reduced colors may actually make it easier to see the results, since the Google Earth © raw map we used as the basis for our work (we use it pursuant to the legal "fair use" doctrine) -- without which our discoveries would not have been possible -- presents a landscape of bright colors which can make it more difficult to differentiate our inserted content of analysis.

Those three postings will then be followed by further postings that examine in more detail the research results shown on the initial large image.



EU and Religion: Pope Urges Followers to Use Social Networks as Portals of Truth

Who would have thought that social networking in the Europe Union and the world would get a plug from Vatican City. The Holy See is getting into social networking as Pope Benedict has proclaimed via Reuters:

Go forth and Tweet! Pope sees web networks as portals of truth.

Our comment as a non-denominational creation of the Almighty is ....

Amen, Benedict!

Modern religions can probably be traced back to earliest prehistoric times, when ancient man viewed the heavens and pondered his existence. Then, as now, man's search for himself and his reason for living predominates in life.

In this spirit, we are about to embark on a number of postings about the Earthworks nearest to Stonehenge, which we have deciphered as astronomy, and which reflect sophisticated -- for their era -- attempts in archaic Britain to understand the world. It is astronomy as the progenitor of modern religions.

And it is law.

As we have previously written:

"As the great Sir Bertrand Russell, "British philosopher, logician, essayist, and social critic " wrote ... in Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, Simon and Schuster, Clarion Books, New York, 1948:

"Astronomy is the oldest of the sciences, and the contemplation of the heavens, with their periodic regularities, gave men their first conceptions of natural law."
Russell further opined that the legacy of astronomy in our "way of life" carries down to the present day, writing:
Although we are taught the Copernican astronomy in our textbooks, it has not yet penetrated to our religion or our morals....

How far has the American outlook on life and the world influenced Europe, and how far is it likely to do so? And first of all: What is the distinctively American outlook? And what, in comparison, is the distinctively European outlook?

Traditionally, the European outlook may be said to be derived from astronomy. When Abraham watched his flocks by night, he observed the stars in their courses: they moved with a majestic regularity utterly remote from human control.

When the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, He said: 'Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?' The reply was in the negative. Even more relevant is the question: 'Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? [emphasis added]
On to Stonehenge and inter alia to the Pleiades. See the next postings.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Education: Teachers and Pupils Back in the Central Focus as the Result of an Evidence-Based Study by John C. Hattie

Visible Learning by John C. Hattie is shaking up the education world.

Donald C. Orlich in his review at Education News sums it up nicely:
"[T]wo conclusions may be inferred: (1) Teacher quality is a key link to student achievement and (2) Most current educational reform efforts have simply been “fads.”

This book is a MUST reading for all involved in teacher education programs, those who determine educational policies and standards, and school evaluators."
We have been arguing for years for an evidence-based approach to education, learning, teaching, and the arts and sciences in general, and John Hattie's work is an exclamation point in this direction.

Hat tip to CZ/CK and a German-language Zeit Online article titled Ich bin superwichtig! by Martin Spiewak about the John Hattie evidence-based education study.

Winston Churchill, The Rule of Law, and Civilization

The writer of EUPundit moderates a list about the "History of Civilization", a concept which many people in academia incompletely understand, many thinking this to be the realm of specialized historians or monopolistically-oriented archaeologists examining ancient pots for signs of wear and tear.

But human civilization -- now as in the past -- is a far more complex development.

Civilization only thrives in societies that promote the necessary conditions for free inquiry and independent thinking. Those conditions lead to the innovations required to improve science and technology, whether this improvement is manifested in NASA missions to distant planets or the invention of new potters' wheels.

People who understand the "History of Civilization" as a "pots only" scenario will never fully understand or unravel man's past, because they are focused on only one part of the larger picture. To get the whole story, one must view the past from ancient man's point of view, in THEIR era.


Most modern researchers can not escape their own era and thus have no hope of understanding what actually happened in ancient days. Furthermore, the research scope must be interdisciplinary, or one will be left behind, as many have been, especially in soft sciences such as archaeology, a discipline which still does not recognize that the "priests" of ancient cultures were not potters, but, above all, astronomers.

I have a reason for saying that, as I have a seminal posting on Stonehenge coming up. NO POTS.

So let us look at "Civilization" in a broader perspective, in the words of Winston S. Churchill, a man who epitomizes "modern Civilization".

With a hat tip to CaryGEE, we quote
Winston S. Churchill, “Civilization,” Chancellor’s Address, University of Bristol, July 2, 1938
via Niall Ferguson Civilization: The West and the Rest
and Michael Kaplan at The New Jacksonian Blog,
citing to Winston S. Churchill, Blood, Sweat, and Tears ,
Randolph S. Churchill, ed. (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1941), pp. 45-46.:

"There are few words which are used more loosely than the word “Civilization.” What does it mean? It means a society based upon the opinion of civilians. It means that violence, the rule of warriors and despotic chiefs, the conditions of camps and warfare, of riot and tyranny, give place to parliaments where laws are made, and independent courts of justice in which over long periods those laws are maintained. That is Civilization—and in its soil grow continually freedom, comfort and culture. When Civilization reigns, in any country, a wider and less harassed life is afforded to the masses of the people. The traditions of the past are cherished, and the inheritance bequeathed to us by former wise or valiant men becomes a rich estate to be enjoyed and used by all.

The central principle of Civilization is the subordination of the ruling authority to the settled customs of the people and to their will as expressed through the Constitution. In this Island we have today achieved in a high degree the blessings of Civilization. There is freedom: there is law; there is love of country; there is a great measure of good will between classes: there is a widening prosperity. There are unmeasured opportunities of correcting abuses and making further progress."
Today we live in an era where the cardinal virtues of Civilization are greatly under siege and where we can only view the future with a certain amount of trepidation. The brave "new world" that the digital era was to bring has not materialized. Daily world news is still dominated by conflict and strife rather than by progress and peace. Even the law is marked by patent "wars" rather than patent cooperation for the good of the common weal.

It may be argued that Civilization always wins in the end and moves onward, but it is always a battle against the forces of yesteryear and various monopolistically inclined nations, groups, religions, organizations and schools of thought, who always have -- and today still continue -- to strive to bind mankind in the chains of ignorance and superstition.

It is our duty, especially the best and most capable of us, to counter the selfish voices of despots and tyrants, small and large, whether in politics or academia.

We must lead forward. That is always the pioneer spirit behind our own work.

Enjoy the coming posting on Stonehenge, a megalithic site not defined by pots, but rather by man's attempt to divine natural laws, as seen by them, in their era.







Friday, January 18, 2013

Facebook Graph Search: PCWorld Says it Leaves Little Privacy and No Opting Out

Jared Newman has the story at PCWorld Social Media in
Facebook Graph Search leaves little privacy and no opting out.

Facebook Graph Search and Opt-Out Denial for Users Clearly Violates 2011 FTC Settlement Agreement

Facebook made a settlement agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011 concerning serious privacy violations committed by Facebook via deception of users.

Grant Gross has the story at IDG New Service in Facebook Settles FTC Privacy Complaints.

Facebook has learned nothing in the interim, and is continuing along the same path it has always operated, i.e. one of deception and disrespect for the law.

Facebook is now actually barring Facebook users from opting out of being included in Facebook graph search, news and other Facebook features that egregiously violate individual privacy rights. Who was even aware that a month or two ago users could allegedly opt out of a search function that was not yet even announced. Now that it is announced, opting out is forbidden.

Where is the FTC?
These appear to clear violations of the settelement agreement.

See Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises where the following is written in the press release:

"For Release: 11/29/2011

Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises

The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers' express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.

The FTC's eight-count complaint against Facebook is part of the agency's ongoing effort to make sure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to American consumers. It charges that the claims that Facebook made were unfair and deceptive, and violated federal law.

"Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users," said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. "Facebook's innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not."

The FTC complaint lists a number of instances in which Facebook allegedly made promises that it did not keep:
  • In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
  • Facebook represented that third-party apps that users' installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users' personal data – data the apps didn't need.
  • Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with "Friends Only." In fact, selecting "Friends Only" did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
  • Facebook had a "Verified Apps" program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn't.
  • Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
  • Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
  • Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn't.
The proposed settlement bars Facebook from making any further deceptive privacy claims, requires that the company get consumers' approval before it changes the way it shares their data, and requires that it obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent, third-party auditors for the next 20 years.
Specifically, under the proposed settlement, Facebook is:
  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information;
  • required to obtain consumers' affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;
  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user's material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;
  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers' information; and
  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers' information is protected.
The proposed order also contains standard record-keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance with its order.

Facebook's privacy practices were the subject of complaints filed with the FTC by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a coalition of consumer groups.

The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement package containing the proposed consent order for public comment was 4-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through December 30, 2011 after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments online or in paper form by following the instructions in the "Invitation To Comment" part of the "Supplementary Information" section. Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has actually violated the law. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
MEDIA CONTACT:
Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-2181
STAFF CONTACT:
Laura Berger
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-460-8364"


Will Facebook Graph Search as a Privacy Outrage Go the Way of Google Buzz?

It was not so long ago that Google was hit hard in terms of privacy controls by the USA's FTC (Federal Trade Commission) because of "deceptive tactics [that] violated its own privacy promises to consumers" as regarded the launch of Google Buzz. Josh Halliday had the story at the Guardian in Google agrees to privacy reviews to settle Buzz complaint.

We see no difference to the massive invasion of privacy that Facebook is now planning via its announced Facebook Graph Search, where private contacts are being used to build up the commercial interests of Facebook and where privacy is clearly being violated. Indeed, we are wondering why the FTC has not long ago been putting far stricter controls on Facebook because of its deceptive and misleading privacy opt-ins and opt-outs which leave users baffled as to what strangers are able to see and what not.

TIME TO STEP IN, FTC!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forbes' Eric Goldman has Few Legal Concerns About Facebook's "Graph Search"

Eric Goldman at Forbes does not share our legal concerns about Facebook Search as being what amounts to a large-scale stealing of private materials for commercial use. See Some Concerns About Facebook's "Graph Search" - Forbes.

My reaction is that I think the modern world's concepts of what is right and wrong and what is "legal" have become terribly warped. Things are totally out of kilter on this score around the world.

If I post a personal photograph to my group of friends, or tell them about my last vacation, what possible legal justification does ANY company or online portal have to use that photograph or posting to drive more traffic to their website by indexing MY material?

And that includes Facebook. Nothing uploaded by me to my Facebook account was intended for any kind of public indexing by Facebook, except for the few precise profile elements that I have expressly permitted to be indexed.

If privacy is not protected at this level, the user has only the protection of intellectual property law for protection against public use of his personal materials by others.

The only difference between a confidential private or business email to one or a handfull or a group of 60 people in a corporation and a strictly limited posting to a group of 60 people on Facebook is just that. The forum may differ, but the privacy should be the same. The privacy may ONLY be different because social media websites are not honoring privacy the way they should by law, and THAT rampant abuse should be stopped.

The forum chosen should not make a photograph or posting any less private if it is intended for a small group of users on Facebook or a small group of email recipients.

That Facebook -- despite express "hiding" of material by the user -- still plans to include that material in Facebook graph search results is an abomination.

And it is not clear what will happen with material found in databases that relates to deactivated or deleted accounts. None of that material "belongs" to Facebook. Will that be included in search results? We hold that to be illegal.

Right now I would like to deactivate and/or delete my Facebook account but I am reluctant to do so because then I can not keep on eye on what Facebook is going to do with my content in the near future. But our goodbye to Facebook is coming soon. And they better not be indexing any of OUR content.

Facebook "graph search" portends a foreboding end to privacy rights and opens the door for commercial appropriation of personal content never intended for public exploitation or profit.

Well, courts are even permitting the patenting of human genes, so this is right in the trend of the misguided legal servants permitting the average man's remaining private and personal assets to become wares to be hawked by traders on commercial markets.

It is a all a sad scenario to a digital revolution which once held so much promise and is now becoming virtually nothing more but a gold mine for greedy commercial interests.


Facebook Postings Can Be Used As Evidence in a Court of Law According to U.S. Federal District Court Judge

A violation of intellectual viz. privacy rights by social networking commercial interests is of course not the same as the status of Facebook postings as a matter of evidence in a court of law.

Doug Mataconis writes at Outside the Beltway in bill-of-rights at Judge Rules That What You Post On Facebook Can Be Used As Evidence Against You that:
"... what you post on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social networking site is considered publicly disseminated for the purposes of the law even if you have restricted access to your account to only a select group of people."
We are of the opinion that this does not put private postings and photographs in the category of "publicly disseminated" for commercial use by social media companies or anyone else, since otherwise anything then posted online would consequently be unprotected as if it were in the public domain, which is not the case. Copyrighted material is protected from infringement and that covers just about everything personal. It is NOT free for companies "to take" to make money.



Privacy and Facebook Search: Reference Compendiums of Private Materials for Commercial Use are Prohibited

For an overview of privacy and applicable laws, see the Wikipedia article on privacy at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy.

Companies such as Facebook are exploiting to their benefit the weak status of the right to privacy in the law.

That is why we prefer to talk about a criminal theft of information, which in the case of social media networks is of course also a violation of both intellectual and privacy rights, however those are defined by any legal jurisdiction.

Original photos and texts that anyone posts about themselves belong to THEM, not to the social networking platform, and websites such as Facebook do not have the right to use that "property" or "intellectual property right" other than for the purpose to which it is was originally intended, unless they have explicit specific permission from the rights owner.

A simple clueless opt-out or opt-in will not suffice.

Search-type lists or compendiums utilizing private protected materials are illegal. We need look only to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, where the rights owners to the series of Harry Potter books sued the maker of a publication that was a reference compendium of Harry Potter characters, places, etc.
Not allowed.

We see no great legal distinction here between Facebook's commercial use of search compendiums of private user materials and the J.K. Rowling case.
See LawUpdates.

If Facebook wants to use YOUR materials beyond the purpose for which YOU posted them, then they need your permission and they should have to pay you for it.


Facebook Search as a Potential Criminal Violation of Privacy Rights

I received an inquiry as to whether information on a deactivated or deleted Facebook account would still be searchable on the announced Facebook Graph Search. Here is what I replied at my Facebook account:

Facebook writes at its website Help:
"Hidden from Timeline:"Hidden stories will not appear on your timeline at all. Stories you hide from your timeline will still appear in your activity log and are also visible elsewhere on Facebook to the audience they're shared with, such as in news feed and search."
In my opinion that is completely illegal regardless of the fact that Facebook posts this information as is.

They can not simply claim all information ever posted as "THEIRS" for purposes of search. No way.

As for deactivated or deleted accounts -- all of these social networking sites keep YOUR information completely intact on their databases, as far as I know. See http://wiki.answers.com at http://anse.rs/VKKMtw.

Whether that info will show up on Facebook search I can not know -- since the so-called" Facebook Graph Search" is in beta, so it is hard to tell what the final version will be, but you can be sure they will try to search everything that they can, and I am sure they will find multiple privacy lawsuits against them. It is inevitable.

The whole idea of this graph search is in fact to put you into contact with people you may not want to be in contact with -- that is certainly my case.

Read http://technology.inquirer.net/22131/facebook-launches-search-engine-for-friends-content.

If you make content available to friends and they make that contact available to friends of friends, and they do the same, your material becomes "public" in the blink of an eye and there is nothing you can do about it.

Indeed, that is why Facebook is launching "graph search".

The article cited above reads:
"Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott said Facebook’s initiative aims to get people more engaged on the social network.
“Facebook’s worst nightmare is a static social graph; if users aren’t adding very many new friends or connections… their personal network becomes less and less active over time,” Elliott said.
“But that may be happening: We haven’t seen significant growth in the average number of friends per user recently. Graph search seems designed to encourage users to add more friends more quickly. If it means users’ personal networks change more frequently, and become more active, then that keeps them coming back to the site — which is vital to Facebook’s success.”
So, the whole idea is to force you into contact with strangers who, if you have posted about a vacation somewhere, have also been there, etc., because you will be able, to query, as the previously cited article writes:
"The social network offered examples of graph search queries including “friends who live in my city,” “people from my hometown who like hiking,” “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park,” “software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing,” “people who like things I like,” or “people who like tennis and live nearby.”" 
This is a privacy nightmare!

How about a query about who goes on vacation in June for criminals ready to break, enter and burglarize your house, etc., and many far worse scenarios can be imagined.

In my opinion, totally illegal.

What Facebook is anticipating doing is essentially STEALING your information. It would in my opinion be a criminal offense and so the guilty should then be treated.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Facebook Search as the Ultimate Privacy Grab: Big Legal Trouble Brewing

The New York Times has the story at Facebook Unveils a New Search Tool.

Here is what we wrote at our own Facebook page today:
"Want all your Facebook activity to be searchable by strangers? Do a "google" search of the phrase "Facebook Search" and read all about the newest coming grab of your private information for somebody's commercial profit. The whole idea of Facebook originally -- at least the part that made the platform popular -- was to put people into better contact with existing friends or old friends, i.e. a chosen few. Now all that data is apparently to go into a publicly searchable pool unless of course you "opt out" which may turn out to be harder than you think. I have spent the better part of an evening removing things I do not want to be searchable by strangers, and that is essentially EVERYTHING, because none of it was posted for "public consumption", but rather only for my friends. Check out your Timeline and your Activity Log."
Good luck on confining your personal information to your circle of friends.

There is definitely trouble brewing at Facebook. Big LEGAL trouble.

Right now the entire Facebook site is a confused, apparently intentionally disorderly jumble of opt-ins and opt-outs such that very few users can likely tell you exactly what they share and with whom. That of course appears to be the Facebook strategy. User confusion is apparently the magic door to obtaining ever more private information, with the objective down the road of Facebook using that information for commercial profit.

There will likely be severe legal consequences for Facebook down that road, because what they are essentially doing is taking information originally published for ONE purpose and for a specific limited audience only, and appropriating that information for public use for Facebook profit.

That is not going to work.

We ourselves are ready for the next, better social networking alternative, thank you, that respects the privacy of its users and the groups that people form under the assumption that what they post online is not intended for access by strangers or for people never intended to be recipients of specific private information.

There are limits to the liberalized "new privacy" and this is the ultimate limit.
No, thank you. We do not want it.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Patent Glut 2012 in the USA: IBM 1st Samsung 2nd and Canon 3rd

Erik Sherman has the story at CBS News MoneyWatch in Google out patents Apple in 2012 . THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of patents -- each and every year.

According to U.S. law, to obtain a patent in the USA at the USPTO, an invention or a discovery can not be "obvious" to someone versed in the state of the art and it can not be anticipated by prior art.

We continue to be amazed how many allegedly "non-obvious" inventions allegedly not anticipated by prior art continue to pour out of the laboratories of the tech giants. Must be a lot of geniuses out there, right? Or we have a broken patent system, right?

How many of these inventions actually emanate logically from the STATE of the ART. Well, as good as all of them. 99% of all patent applications probably should not be granted if laws were properly applied.


Friday, January 11, 2013

UK Legal Myths, plus 850 Antiquated Acts of Parliament To Be Repealed

Who says that law is not moving forward?

Paul Geoghegan, Senior Solicitor with Morton Fraser LLP, has a nice take on UK law: Top 5 common myths - separating fact from fiction in which he also notes that over 850 antiquated Acts of Parliament are set for repeal in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Patent Quagmire - Copyright Abuses - Intellectual Property Rights Reform Demanded at CES by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

Sherwin Siy at the PublicKnowledge Policy Blog covers Wyden's talk at the CES in Wyden Calls for Copyright Reform at CES, in a talk which  relates not only to copyrights, but also to patents, as Siy writes:
"The ever-growing quagmire that results from the abuse of the patent system and patent litigation."


New Proposed European Data Protection Measures Destined To Put the Whammy on Misuse of Personal Information by Commercial Interests

Go get 'em Albrecht!

Natasha Singer has the story at the Bits blog at the New York Times in

Tougher European Data Protection Measures Proposed by a Member of the European Parliament.

The new proposed regulations foresee a penalty that is destined to put the fear of God back into corporate board rooms. As Singer writes about the new draft regulation on the protection of citizens' data privacy:
"And it comes with a big stick: Companies that violated the rule would be liable to penalties of up to 2  percent of worldwide revenues."
Really, folks, what a much better way to finance government than the evil of taxation!

I mean, if Apple can obtain a $ 1 billion patent infringement judgement for a PONG-reminiscent rubber-band-like software-programmed "bounce-back" and Carnegie Mellon a $1 billion judgement for a simple decoding of "signal-dependent functions" then what is to keep governments from filling their tills with innovative -- yea, indeed, patent-protection worthy -- ideas for financing all the services that taxpayers need and want but complain about as being unwillingly financed via taxation.

Every time one of these companies misuses YOUR data for profit - WHAM! - up to 2% of their worldwide revenues goes into government ownership. Let us be frank. That is virtually a financial lock and the end of financial woes for the cash-strapped governments of the world -- and that seems to be nearly all of them.

If only ....

Sadly, reality will strike, and commercial interests will continue to exploit OUR data more and more for THEIR profit.

Why is it that WE, the PEOPLE, permit that?

To Be, or Not to Be, a Software Patent.... But What Am I?

Everyone is FOR or AGAINST software patents ... but what are they? How about a definition?

Dr. Mark A. Summerfield tackles the dragon at Patentology in 'Software Patents' – A Problem of Definition?

Legal Threats Shut Down Science Fraud Whistleblower Site

Bill Frezza has the story at Forbes in A Barrage Of Legal Threats Shuts Down Whistleblower Site, Science Fraud, writing:
"Fraud, plagiarism, cherry-picked results, poor or non-existent controls, confirmation bias, opaque, missing, or unavailable data, and stonewalling when questioned have gone from being rare to being everyday occurrences."
Well, we have been writing for decades that mainstream science functions according to the same system as organized crime, and we are surely not far wrong. VERY effective system against outsiders.

"Science" is a big money business.

What is "true" as a matter of mainstream scientific doctrine is not determined by the best probative evidence, but rather by who holds the reigns of power, and that is determined by who has the money and holds the purse strings.

This reminds us of the work of Imre Lakatos. As we have written previously at LawPundit:
"Lakatos is known particularly for his idea that the "basic unit" of science is not scientific theory but rather the research program, which propagates itself through increased funding over competition and through growing content, i.e. increased publication, which is a direct result of the CONTROLLED peer review publication process."
There is of course no doubt that science will be more carefully scrutinized in the future as the digital era takes its course and as more and more people obtain access to information generally, including materials about how the world of science works, what it actually produces and who it benefits.

Remember that intellectual property law (patents, copyrights, trademarks) reminds us continuously that science and knowledge are businesses first.

Read these links ... and prepare to get out your wallet. QED.

Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research, by Laura McKenna at The Atlantic

Or try The Hubris of Science: Defending the Scientific Process From Political Agendas

It might be an interesting article, who knows, but you have to pay to read it.

Well, there is nothing wrong with that. But mainstream scientists want to have it both ways. They want to set themselves off as a knowledge elite not subject to the normal vagaries of the world rat race, but cash in while they are at it, which shows you the actual nature of the game.

Money. Money. Money.


Legally Forced IP Anti-Piracy Probably Not The Solution if USA's SOPA and PIPA are Any Example

Jennifer Martinez has the story at The Hill's Hillicon Valley in 'Shell-shocked' lawmakers shy away from online piracy in new Congress

Top Internet Law Developments of 2012 by Eric Goldman at Forbes

Eric Goldman has the Top Ten Internet Law Developments of 2012 at Forbes.

We think Number Five Should be Number One.

Google and FTC Patent Deal Excepts Defensive Use of FRAND-encumbered SEPs to Seek Injunctive Relief

FOSS Patents discusses the Google FTC search and patent deal and focuses on the potentially troublesome "defensive use' exception to Google's commitment not to seek injunctive relief on its FRAND-encumbered SEPs."

Google and U.S. FTC Resolve Search and Patent Legal Issues

Ars Technica via Joe Mullin reports on agreements reached between the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Google on various legal issues affecting Google Search practices, use of standard-essential patents to seek injunctions, and opt outs relating to specialized search properties "for things like travel or shopping".

See FTC won’t bring charges against Google on search, patents.

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