High Schooler Pretending To Be A Girl, Criminally Accused

If you think it is impossible to face jail time of up to 293 years and a bail bond of 75 Thousand Dollars (Yup, that’s 75 Grand—$75,000.00) for pretending to be a girl in Facebook, think again. An Eighteen-year-old high school boy just found this out for himself. His attorney said that he will pay twenty dollars for electronic monitoring with a GPS device and have adult supervision if he is released from jail.

But to make things clearer, just pretending to be a fairy was not really what placed this boy in hot water. After pretending to be a she, he just cannot help himself from contacting 31 male classmates of his on Facebook and convincing them to send him naked pictures of themselves. Now, as if this cruel prank was not enough, he used those pictures to blackmail at least seven of those poor boys who thought that he was the fairest of them all.

What he blackmailed them for, you ask? Well, it’s for some boy on boy bed adventure. (I must admit that in this blog, I sometimes find it easier to spell longer words than three-lettered ones) Now that changes everything, don’t you think? (Oh, and investigators also found around 300 pictures of the accused’s male classmates)

Facebook and Privacy Law

Securing your privacy on the Web is a tenuous proposition at best. The more so when you participate in certain online activities like chat, email and now, Facebook. The site is alleged to have been breaking a Canadian privacy law otherwise known as The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. This law only allows the retention of personal information by companies when it is still necessary to meet appropriate purposes. Facebook, however, retains such personal information even after the termination of its service such as after an account has been deactivated or closed.

It’s not a secret that I’m fond of social media like Twitter. Hardly a day passes by without me sending tweets about links that I just discovered in the Web or in Twitter itself. And since Facebook is another form of social media, I have also been looking at it. But privacy has always been a concern. This is aggravated in Facebook due to the ever so popular applications. These applications made Facebook popular but are also a privacy concern since there are few restrictions on data access.

The privacy officer seems to be saying that people come to Facebook to share information and not to hide them. I don’t know if there are other ways of interpreting that statement but to me, what the officer is trying to say in effect is that privacy is not much of a concern there. I beg to differ. When someone joins a social networking site like Facebook, it may be true that she does not intend to hide information but I’m also sure that she also does not want to share it with just about anybody in the world.

Law In Cyberspace

There are laws that address cyber crimes in cyberspace. But there are still some problems in enforcement and prosecution. Imagine a hacker from China who broke into a workstation owned by a European company in the Philippines  which is then used to hack an Australian’s blog which is hosted in a server in the USA. Which court has jurisdiction? Which country’s law shall be applied? Who can represent who? A Philippine lawyer cannot appear in American or Australian courts unless admitted in those country’s bar.

I’ve been to Reyna Elena’s blog a few days ago and read that his site’s traffic had been rerouted. Based on his description, it sounds so much like a redirect hijack. It is not yet confirmed though. (Who’s going to confirm it anyway? Certainly not the hosting company.) On the other side of the blogosphere, I came across two Filipino bloggers who got their sites hacked and consequently, their ads replaced with that of the intruder’s. These acts are clearly illegal in most jurisdictions.

So who did these things and why? Crackers. Not the crunchy thing you eat when you’re hungry and there’s no food around, but those people who eat blogs for breakfast. Actually, you might have heard of them as hackers though I refuse to use that term here as it is simply erroneous and misleading. Hackers originally meant brilliant people in computers and computing such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, to name a few. I’m certainly not about to honor network intruders by calling them hackers.

As to why, let’s look at Reyna’s blog first. His blog boasts a tremendous amount of traffic. As you might already know, this traffic can be converted; so the intruders weapon of choice? Web traffic redirection. They probably did it by breaking into Reyna’s installation and installed server-side scripts to the end that Reyna’s traffic is counted as that of the intruder’s. In short, they benefited from Reyna’s traffic.

The other two blogs are a different story. The owners of those blogs earn substantial AdSense revenues. So the crackers took a different approach. Instead of redirecting traffic, they replaced the original ads of the blog owners with their own ads so that clicks and impressions will be credited to their account. Smart.

Crackers or network intruders today have evolved from their immature beginnings. In the past, they would break into systems and tell the world that they’ve done it by defacing websites. It was sort of like their trophy. Not unlike a kid spray painting a wall with words like: “Hacker Doodz was here”. Today, their approach is more business like. They’re in it for the money. Most bloggers who get hacked probably would not even know it. Why would they be so loud when doing so means the end of their passive income? The only reason the blogger above learned of the ad swap is because he noticed that the ad’s color became slightly different. Good for him to notice that.

In cases like this, complex conflict of laws needs to be applied which is why a lot don’t even bother. This will hopefully be remedied in the future but at the moment, we just have to be vigilant.

I Just Had A Page Rank Of 2 But…

Now it’s gone. Talk about Murphy’s Law. That’s sad considering that I am just starting to consider blogging seriously and am hoping to get something out of it—even just a teensy bit.

Some online buddies like Roy of The Struggling Blogger and Ceblogger of Blog From Cebu showed me that there is another side to blogging. Some might say that this is the dark side of blogging but I’ll let each of you be the judge of that. The Chosen may be called by The Others as The Forsaken while The Unenlightened, The Faithful. For myself, I’m determined to at least take a peak at that wilde side.

But crossing to the other side, as my research showed, is not unlike entering the camp of the Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta—the better if you sport some badge showing higher rank than the norm. (With a matching green colored beret, of course) So here’s to hoping that that elusive rank be reinstated.

My Nominees For The Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2009 Writing Project

Just great. A few minutes ago, I was playing SpongeBob SquarePants on my son's Nintendo DS. He also wanted to play with it; but of course, I won out. It's not because I'm the dad around here but because it's not like I get to play with it a lot. I seldom have the opportunity to immerse myself in a game. He, on the other hand, have plenty of time for it.

But it did not take long before the NDS had to return to his eager, waiting hands. You see, my lovely wife just told me that it might be a good idea to make my own list of top ten emerging influential bloggers. Make no mistake, while it sounds simply like a polite suggestion, I assure you that it definitely is not. Women have a way of wrapping a stern command in smooth velvet.

I tried to argue against the idea at first. Choosing has never been one of my strong points. Given the option, I would prefer not to have to choose. Between cookies and chocolates, for example, I'd just take both. That would save my brain cells from having to perform complex mathematical computations while allowing me to sample both delights at the same time. Besides, that list (which, as you'll learn later, became this list) would take extra work. But regardless of my well constructed argument, the next thing I know is that I'm sitting here in front of my computer and hammering out a bunch of text into GEdit.

However, if ever the thought crosses your mind that I jump and roll every time my wife says leap, then I must disabuse you of such belief. I do nothing of that sort. I simply jump.

Now that I have finally made it through the first few paragraphs, I think it's high time I present the blogs that I am nominating. First of all, though, let's tackle the requirements so that we can get those out of our way as soon as possible:

The Requirements

The Main Event

Tales From The Mom Side
Writing To Exhale
The Struggling Blogger
Jena Isle's Random Thoughts
It's All a Matter of Perspective: Mine
Home Buddies
I Love-Hate America by Bing
Mom Writes for a Cause
Jed Chan dot com

There you go. That is my list. I exercised due diligence in determining whether they all qualify for this contest; but if in case it turns out that such diligence fell short of the standard of care in this project, please notify me. It is also appreciated if you can bring to my attention anything which might disqualify this list and render nugatory the time I spent making it instead of playing as a yellow sea sponge.

Finally, while looking at my own list, I realized that the majority of my nominees are women. That could simply be because of coincidence; or maybe because more women blog so I know more of them; or maybe, it is my respect for their possession of the mysteries of childbirth, to which mysteries, men have been excluded.

...or it could also be because of fear of those gentle looking and seemingly weak creatures who can make you jump and do things with just a slight upward movement of an eyebrow.

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